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EASTBIO: Modelling the spread of African Swine Fever in Malawi


College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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Dr A Jennings , Dr T Porphyre No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The student working on this project will develop models to better understand and describe the epidemiology of African swine fever (ASF) in Eastern Africa, and Malawi in particular. The models will address questions about spread and control of the disease at the household, village, and regional level, thus increasing the understanding of how ASF is spread in the Malawian pork value chain.

ASF is a highly contagious and often fatal disease of both domestic pigs and wild swine species. Although the largest epidemic of ASF is currently ongoing in both Europe and Asia, the infection is endemic in much of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It represents a major constraint to the development of the pig industry and is a threat to the livelihoods of pig keepers in the region.

Although Malawi experiences regular outbreaks of ASF, little is known about the epidemiology of the virus in the country. Malawi veterinary services have promoted biosecurity measures on smallholdings to prevent ASF spread, but outbreaks are still common. It is believed to be due, at least partly, to pig keepers mitigating their potential losses by selling pigs that they believe are at high rish of being infected. This is despite local legislation against such practice. This is possibly further amplified by high levels of unregulated cross border trade that can lead to continuous seeding of infection. This project aims to improve our understanding of ASF transmission in Malawi, particularly by clarifying the role that decision making by pig keepers has . Ultimately, this project will support the local pig industry to make evidence-based decisions and allow it to increase its resilience, ensuring food security and the growth of Malawi’s economy.

This PhD project will build on existing partnerships between RI/UoE, LUANAR School of Veterinary Science, the Malawian Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development, and AgroSup Lyon, and will support the overarching vision of developing a translational, multidisciplinary research partnership between three veterinary schools and government partners. Besides offering the student the opportunity to work with world-leading research groups in livestock disease epidemiology, modelling and statistics, this project has the potential to directly influence policy in Malawi and inform decisions of industry stakeholders to support sustainable economic growth.

The student will have access to comprehensive training in both epidemiology, mathematical modelling, computer science/maths, and statistics.

Funding information and application procedures:
This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0 .

EASTBIO Application and Reference Forms can be downloaded via http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0

Please send your completed EASTBIO Application Form along with a copy of your academic transcripts to [Email Address Removed]

You should also ensure that two references have been send to [Email Address Removed] by the deadline using the EASTBIO Reference Form.

Funding Notes

This opportunity is open to UK and international students and provides funding covering stipend and UK level tuition fees. The University of Edinburgh covers the difference between home and international fees meaning that the EASTBIO DTP offers fully-funded studentships to all appointees. There is a cap on the number of international students the DTP recruits. It is important that we know from the outset which fees status category applicants fall under when applying to our university.

Please refer to UKRI (https://www.ukri.org/our-work/develop ing-people-and-skills/find-studentships-and-doctoral-training/get-a-studentship-to-fund-your-doctorate/) and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions for full eligibility criteria (https://www.ukri.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/UKRI-291020-guidance-to-training-grant-terms-and-conditions.pdf).

References

• Costard S, Zagmutt FJ, Porphyre T, Roger F, Pfeiffer DU (2015). Small-scale pig farmers” behavior, silent release of African swine fever virus and consequences for disease spread. Scientific reports 5:17074.
• C. Guinat, T. Porphyre, A. Gogin, L. Dixon, D.U.Pfeiffer, S. Gubbins (2018) Inferring the within-herd transmission parameters for African swine fever virus using mortality data from outbreaks in the Russian Federation. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 65(2): e264-e271
P. Motta, T. Porphyre, I. Handel, S.H. Hamman, V. Ngu Ngwa, V. Tanya, K. Morgan, R. Christley, B.M.deC. Bronsvoort (2017) Implications of the cattle trade network in Cameroon for regional disease prevention and control. Scientific reports 7:43932.
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